PBS and Greater Public reunite for joint PMDMC in 2018

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PBS is returning as a co-sponsor of next year’s Public Media Development and Marketing Conference with Greater Public.

Betsy Gerdeman, PBS development SVP, and Joyce MacDonald, Greater Public president, informed clients and member stations in a joint email Tuesday.

The two organizations have begun planning the next PMDMC, July 11–13, 2018, in Chicago.

With its return to PMDMC, PBS will discontinue the “DevDay” track at its Annual Meeting, Gerdeman said in an interview. But the development focus will continue at the yearly TechCon in April. “We look toward digital fundraising as an avenue for growth,” she said.

PBS started presenting a public TV development track in 2012 at PMDMC. The conference had previously focused mainly on public radio. The PBS sessions grew into a full collaboration that lasted until 2016, when the conference attracted nearly 1,200 development and marketing professionals.

But “because of location and timing concerns,” the email said, PBS declined to participate in this year’s PMDMC in July in San Francisco. The PBS Annual Meeting had taken place two months earlier in San Diego. At the time, PBS said it made the decision after consulting with its Development Advisory Committee.

“We felt we’d lose significant attendance” from stations that couldn’t travel to both, Gerdeman said.

But the two organizations still felt that a collaborative conference was vital. Nearly half of PBS member stations and about a third of Greater Public clients are joint licensees.

Plus, “TV and radio licensees are facing a lot of the same challenges and opportunities,” MacDonald said. “In areas where the business differs, there’s a great opportunity to learn from each other. In areas where it’s aligned — and joint licensees are that ultimate alignment — there’s greater impact and more momentum if we’re moving together as a team.”

Greater Public will continue to handle logistics for conference planning, with PBS providing input for session content. Each organization will reach out to constituents for ideas. Andrew Leitch, Greater Public member station relations director, said Greater Public received suggestions from more than 200 organizations for the 2016 joint meeting.

Gerdeman and MacDonald declined to preview any changes or new approaches for next year’s meeting. However, Gerdeman said, “the keywords are ‘aspirational’ and ‘inspirational’ as well as ‘tactical.’”